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Burns & McDonnell Announces New CEO

courtesy: Burns & McDonnell

Greg Graves announced plans last week to retire at the end of 2016 as president and CEO of Burns & McDonnell, a Kansas City-based engineering firm. It was a role he'd served for 12 years.

And, on Monday, Graves had a follow-up announcement for the employee-owners: Ray Kowalik will succeed him as CEO. 

Kowalik, executive vice president and president of global practices, has dedicated 29 years to the Kansas City-based engineering firm. He heads up the diverse business groups.

"Ray exudes leadership, is a fierce promoter of our employee-owned culture and is a master at embracing complex challenges and developing strategies to create innovative solutions," Graves said in a news release.

When Graves took on the position of president and CEO, he reportedly had 100 items on his to-do list.

"I have for the last few years been keeping my own list. I will say it's not 100 items long, maybe more like around 15 or 20," Kowalik joked in an interview with KCUR. 

Kowalik says one of the items on his list includes boosting the company's philanthropic efforts. He also wants to build on its progress — from 600 people, when he first started as a "dream job right out of college," to its 5300 employees today, and from $44 million to $2.6 billion in revenue. 

"It's a very surreal time for me, you know, I've worked at this company my entire career," Kowalik says. "It's a great honor and a privilege, but I consider it a big duty that I have to the 5300 people that work here. We've got to be prepared to continue the growth and success of the company. That's all of our jobs." 

Graves retires at the end of the year after 36 years with Burns & McDonnell. In 2017, Kowalik will step in as the seventh CEO for the firm, which was founded in 1898. 

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter, @lauraspencer.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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